Stung by constant criticism of delayed handling of food and drug safety scandals in China, the country’s State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) has decided to talk directly to the end user.
On February 26, the SFDA announced the establishment of a centre to deal with complaints directly with consumers.
The centre went live the same day, with the watchdog setting up a new website (www.12331.org.cn ) and a hotline (12331) for customers to call in directly with complaints.
The SFDA says the centre will investigate wrongdoing in research, development, production, distribution and utilisation of foods, cosmetics and drugs.
It will be the sole authority in charge of coordination of efforts during the outbreak of a food (or other product) safety scandal, carrying out inspections, analysis, and investigations.
Reduced response, preemptive strikes
It will interface with the general public and national media during outbreaks, a spokesman for the administration told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“The center will reduce the response time of the reaction towards safety issues with these products. What we are also looking at is preempting the outbreaks by connecting directly with the users,” he said.
Chinese authorities have been caught off guard by major food scandals such as the melamine milk scandal of 2008.
More recently, China was hit by a ‘gutter oil’ scandal where oil scooped up from sewage drains and restaurant back doors was being repackaged and sold across the country.
More than 100 oil manufacturers have been implicated in the scandal, in which the Supreme People’s Court said in a recent note that the death penalty is a firm possibility for offenders.